Sunday, November 9, 2008

Before you pick up your Louisville Slugger

I’ve talked about anger a lot this week. It’s funny I’ve never blogged about it, since I used to do anger management groups, I’ve written about it and it’s certainly something that lots of us have difficulty with.

These are Judy’s tips for managing anger, before you have to resort to your Louisville Slugger.

Like most things, first you have to identify the problem. For example, you notice you feel like screaming, punching someone out or kicking something. It’s probably anger, right? Even noticing that you’ve been sarcastic or snippy is a pretty good indicator. Sometimes wanting to withdraw is a signal.

Then you look at the ABCs. For most emotions, an ABC analysis is helpful. A is for antecedent, B for behavior and C for consequence.

I really wanted to say something I know I’d later regret. This registered as anger when I thought about it.

What was the antecedent or trigger? What got you upset?

My friend said something I thought was unnecessarily mean.

What was the behavior, the thing you did in response to the antecedent?

I was short and left abruptly. [Let’s note here that another typical behavior is to internalize the anger, not saying anything.]

What was the consequence?

The immediate consequence was my friend was left with her mouth sort of hanging open. A subsequent consequence may be that she’s angry with me for my rudeness. Perhaps I’ll lose a friend. [Again, let’s note that in not saying anything or doing anything, you may avoid this consequence but there are other consequences. In not responding to something that hurts or angers you, you wind up feeling angry or resentful perhaps.]

As part of noting the consequences, it’s also useful to evaluate them. Is it a good outcome? How else could you have handled the situation? What would be preferable next time?

Other helpful tips:
  • Not all anger is worth acting on. Ask yourself if it will matter in two weeks, two months, etc. Or will you just forget about it and write it off as no biggie. If so, then it may be okay to do nothing.
  • To rely on an old adage, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. If you’re going to say something, say it calmly and politely. You’ll probably feel less angry, and the other person may actually be able to hear you.
  • When you practice change - for some it’s controlling their anger, for others, expressing it - it gets easier the more you do it.
  • When you’re having a bad day, self-control is not as good. Your anger management will not be as good. You might just as well wait until tomorrow to confront someone you’re angry with. It’ll probably go better

So before you pick up your Louisville Slugger, listen to Carrie Underwood, Before He Cheats, or the Bartender Song, Rehab.

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